Media Watch 3/3/15

By Rowan Williams

Teachers, councillors and care workers could face prison terms of up to five years for ignoring child abuse, under new proposals to be unveiled today by the Prime Minister. The new rules would see the crime of ‘wilful neglect’ be extended to cover children’s social care and education, and would apply to all public sector workers in England and Wales who work with children, including police officers and politicians. Offenders could also face an unlimited fine. A national whistleblowers’ hotline will also be set up for workers to report abuse. The plans will be unveiled by David Cameron today at a summit at Downing Street, to be attended by abuse victims, survivors groups, and child protection experts, amongst others. The proposals come in the wake of the 2014 Rotherham child abuse scandal, where council workers are understood to have taken no action against abuse despite evidence of a child grooming ring operating in the town. The ring had abused as many as 1,400 children over 16 years.

In Moscow, mourners have gathered to pay their respects ahead of the funeral of murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. Several EU politicians have been barred from attending the funeral: one Latvian MEP was turned back at a Moscow airport, while Polish politician Bogdan Borusewicz was denied a visa under tit-for-tat visa sanctions between Moscow and the EU. Also absent was opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was denied temporary release from jail, where he is currently serving a 15-day sentence. Former UK Prime Minister John Major was present in Moscow to pay his respects. Nemtsov was shot dead near the Kremlin on Friday night in a drive-by killing. No arrests have been made over the killing, and no obvious motive has become apparent. CCTV footage of the getaway car has been released, though there is no clear footage of the suspects inside the vehicle. On Sunday, tens of thousands marched through Moscow in memory of Nemtsov.

British premium retailer Marks & Spencer is to close five stores in Shanghai following a review of its plans for development in China. The retailer also announced that its regional director for Asia, Bruce Findlay, is to leave the firm after less than two years. Marks & Spencer currently has 15 stores in Shanghai, with China a priority international market for the retailer. Marks & Spencer is continuing to look for a long-term local partner that will allow greater expansion in China, following in the footsteps of British supermarket chain Tesco. While operations are to be reduced in Shanghai, the firm has expressed intentions to open stores in Beijing and Guangzhou over the next year.

The Papers

Children’s welfare and immigration makes the headlines today. The Guardian leads with news of proposals from the Prime Minister to “jail those who ignore child abuse”. Under new plans to be set out today, those in positions of responsibility over children could face jail for ‘turning a blind eye’ to abuse. The proposals hope to prevent a repeat of 2014’s Rotherham child abuse scandal, where authorities failed to take action despite evidence of child grooming. The Daily Telegraph leads with the same story, writing that the law will cover “council officials, politicians, teachers, social workers and police”. The Times leads with news that Home Secretary is ‘defying’ the cabinet over the government’s annual net immigration cap of 100,000. The Home Secretary “insists target can be met”, the paper writes, despite the most recent figures putting net immigration at 298,000. The Independent writes that the government should take action “to overhaul Britain’s ‘shocking’ detention of migrants”. A committee of MPs has released a report showing a rise in the number of asylum seekers “held indefinitely and in appalling conditions”. The Financial Times leads with news that the rest of Britain’s “pay gap with London” is closing due to a lower-than-average rise in wages in the capital. The disparity in earnings is “still large” however, the paper writes.

British Media on China

On Prince William’s visit to China: Prince William’s tour of China continues to receive coverage in the UK media, with articles from the BBC and Daily Telegraph. The BBC reports that the Prince will “promote British creativity and innovation” at a business summit in Shanghai. The Daily Telegraph features a piece by Kerry Brown, however, writing that the Prince is “the wrong man for China”. The Prince’s visit “sends the wrong message”, Brown writes, and the country should opt for a visitor that would show “more vision and courage” than an “apolitical” Prince.

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